Funny Car Body Hurtles Into Grandstands At Four-Wides
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Spectators seated in zMAX Dragway’s East Grandstand escaped serious injury Saturday when the carbon fiber body from Robert Hight’s Funny Car hit a portion of the seating area following an engine explosion during the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals final qualifying round.
NHRA officials said two people were evaluated by paramedics at the scene and released.
Hight was in the third lane, about three-quarters of the way down the track when the engine exploded in his Ford Mustang. The force of the explosion blew the carbon fiber body off the chassis and launched it high into the air towards the East Grandstand. The car body hit the top of the railing in front of the seats and then fell onto a pedestrian walkway.
Chad Head, the No. 1 Funny Car qualifier, was in the staging area when Hight’s incident occurred.
“When you see people from the track running to the finish line, it’s concerning,” said Head, who admitted the incident “probably startled” him “a little bit.” “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Thank God Robert was fine and thank God the fans were fine. That’s the No. 1 concern, obviously, the fans and the driver.”
Head posted an ET of 4.014 seconds – 315.19 mph – in claiming his first career No. 1 starting position, but he wasn’t concerned about possible record speeds on Sunday increasing the chance of another incident similar to Hight’s.
“What happened with Robert Hight has nothing to do with speed,” Head said. “That is a pure mechanical problem; whether he’s running 300 mph or 320 mph that has absolutely nothing to do with the explosion. That’s maybe an intake failure or a rocker arm failure or something on top of the motor let go and that’s what you’re going to have.”
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